NEW YORK — Anthony Gose returned to the Las Vegas 51s dugout after striking out in the first inning, was told by hitting coach Chad Mottola to stay put, and shortly thereafter was informed that he was headed to the Toronto Blue Jays.
Less than 24 hours later he was at Yankee Stadium, stepping into the batter’s box as a pinch-hitter for Ben Francisco in what ended as a 6-1 loss to New York on Tuesday night, his head still spinning from all that had transpired in such a short time-span.
He grounded out to short in his first at-bat and beat out a bunt single in the ninth inning during his second trip to the plate to open his big-league account.
“Pretty fast,” he said of the whole experience. “Here, flying on a plane last night, here, making my debut at Yankee Stadium, game’s over, flew by. Tough loss tonight, hopefully we get them (Wednesday).”
The shell-shocked look on Gose’s face as he took in his surroundings before the game and when he faced his second bulging media scrum of the day afterwards must have been nothing in comparison to how he must have looked after getting the news of his promotion.
“I was really surprised and really shocked,” he conceded.
Gose was far from the only one of many caught off-guard, particularly with the more experienced Travis Snider and Eric Thames in the outfield alongside Gose in Vegas.
Thames started the season in Toronto before getting sent down while Snider has been in triple-A patiently waiting for his next shot at sticking with the Blue Jays. Gose figured he was further down the depth chart.
“I would have said Travis,” he replied when asked who he expected to get a call up first. “He has been here, he has worked hard, he’s had a great season. He has battled injuries, came back, been strong for the team, been a team leader throughout the year, and I would have just said Travis Snider.”
That was also a popular sentiment among the Blue Jays fan base, with many lively online debates and plenty of conspiracy theories kicking around Tuesday on why Gose was chosen over Snider.
The explanation from manager John Farrell?
“Gose coming here is not to slight anyone, Snider, Thames, all three have been playing very well,” he said, “but it was the clear recommendation of the staff there, and the people that have gone through Las Vegas recently for Anthony be here and that’s the reason why he’s here.”
There may be other reasons, too.
The expectation is that Jose Bautista will only be sidelined for two or three weeks and that rather than bring up Snider for a short stay, one train of thought is the Blue Jays are better off giving Gose a taste of the big-leagues and then sending him down with first-hand knowledge of where he needs to improve.
Further to that, when/if the Blue Jays do next call up Snider, they want him to ideally be up for good after years of being yo-yoed back and forth, and not just up for a brief stint.
Both points are fair, but a devil’s advocate could reasonably counter that by passing over Snider at a time of need, the Blue Jays are showing a lack of faith in him to other teams, thereby devaluing him as an asset. There is also Snider’s reaction to worry about as he wonders what he must do to get another chance, although he handled the news in typical classy fashion by congratulating Gose in a complimentary tweet.
“Proud to have watched Anthony Gose these last few months continue to develop in to one hell of player. Congrats brotha,” he wrote.
Still, other teams have called the Blue Jays to inquire about Snider — there was also significant interest in him over the winter — and the time may be coming for general manager Alex Anthopoulos to give him the kind of fresh start he’s given to so many players he’s acquired.
Snider will be out of options next year and that will severely cut into any leverage the Blue Jays have in dealing him once this season ends. Trading him now would give a team the chance to test him at the big-league level and send him down for adjustments if needed to put in place before next spring.
There’s value in that.
Regardless, Gose is up getting a look now, providing Farrell and his staff some first-hand insight at what they might reasonably be able to expect from the 21-year-old next season.
“I’m speechless, really,” he said. “It’s a tremendous opportunity. Any time you can be a part of a big-league club at a big-league stadium, especially Yankee Stadium, with all the history and everything that’s happened here, it’s beautiful.
“It’s indescribable, really.”
On his way to the Las Vegas airport for his red-eye to New York, Gose texted Snider “and said thank you for everything you’ve helped me with.”
“If it wasn’t for him, not saying I wouldn’t be here, but it definitely would have been a lot harder and I don’t know if it would be this soon,” he continued. “Just showing me the things to do on a daily basis, on and off the field, going about your business the right way, playing hard, playing the right way, being seen, not heard.
“Anything and everything you can think of, Travis has helped me out tremendously. I really thank him a lot.”
And all Snider can do is be happy for a friend, and wait patiently for his chance, whenever and wherever it may come.